Fall is not long in coming, as I am writing this at the fall equinox of 2021. The summer has been cool and humid, but generally a good gardening season for those who have managed to escape some. local flooding. It was one of the very few summers where the application of nitrogen fertilizer could increase the yields or performance of certain plants, except tomato plants. Many leaves are already falling in part due to the increased level of leaf diseases. I think the fall colors are coming a little later than usual. It should be a spectacular season.
Unfortunately, many of our ash trees succumb to the emerald ash borer. I guess I had underestimated how devastating this pest would be. We have been told over and over again that disaster is imminent, with the arrival of a new parasite or disease that will “wipe out” a particular species. Most of those warnings didn’t turn into serious problems, but the EAB lived up to the dire consequences predicted a few years ago. The good news is that we are already seeing apparent natural resistance to this pest. It almost seems like we are witnessing “herd immunity” if I can borrow a popular pandemic phrase.
Three species of exotic earthworms are another serious pest that appears in far too many forested areas in New York City and elsewhere. The one that is most easily identified is a species that will leap from your hand as it struggles violently if picked up. These jumping worms are smooth, gray or shiny brown, and are 1.5 to 8 inches long. They are a bit smaller than nocturnal caterpillars and are relatively easy to identify if you take a look at their clitellum (the band around the body of a worm). The clitellum of a jumping worm is milky white to gray in color, smooth and completely surrounds the body of the worm, unlike a nocturnal caterpillar whose clitellum does not completely encircle the body, is pinkish to red and more like a saddle. . Unlike European earthworms, which burrow deep into the soil and improve its texture, jumping worms mainly stay on the surface and consume the layer of humus essential for the health of many woodland plants, including ginseng and most other herbaceous perennials. The net result of this activity is a compacted subsoil that cannot support normal growth.
These earthworms perish with hard frosts, but their cocoon-like eggs survive and re-infest the following year. Most of these worms arrive in nursery stock which is potted in containers. I strongly encourage you to remove any potted plants you buy from their pots and wash the roots thoroughly before planting them in your gardens. Look for small white colored eggs that resemble cocoons and report anything you find at the garden center. Remove any infested soil by putting it in sealed plastic bags and let it sit in the sun for several hours, before sending it to landfill. Never buy earthworms for composting or “vermiculture”.
I really want to thank the reader who recently sent me this. Please send me topic topic ideas as well as other interesting horticultural topics.
People sell seeds online for plants that don’t exist in reality – they photoshop photos of really cool plants: spiral daisies, hot pink sunflowers, rainbow tomatoes, blue strawberries, and more. etc.
Although I have never purchased any of these seeds myself, judging from the reviews it seems that after you make a purchase you receive Mystery Seeds from a foreign country in the mail. The seeds, of course, don’t grow rainbow roses or anything that has been promised.
I find this very concerning because not only are people getting ripped off and who knows what is being done with their personal information – the seeds that are sent are unregulated and could pose a threat to our native vegetation.
Below I will list some examples. I have found these seeds sold on independent websites as well as listings on e-commerce sites like Etsy, Ebay, and Amazon. Scammers make things even more confusing by mixing up lists of fake plants with lists of real plants. They also tend to add a lot of fake five star reviews.